Self-guided interventions for managing psychological distress in people with cancer - A systematic review.

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People with cancer can experience psychological distress but do not always desire, or engage with, professional support to assist with managing distress. Interventions that are self-directed or guided by patients may hold promise as they allow patients to engage with interventions as they need. The objective of this review is to describe and appraise the evidence for effectiveness of self-guided interventions that aim to manage psychological distress in people with cancer.


A systematic search of Medline, PsychInfo and CINAHL identified 15 relevant papers, reporting on 14 studies.


Of the interventions, three studies comprised hard-copy workbooks, six studies used resource packs, four were online resources and one was a brief multimedia resource. One study was adequately powered and demonstrated a positive effect. Almost all interventions required some level of facilitation. Distressed participants may benefit more from interventions.


Self-guided interventions represent a potentially efficient way of delivering support for people affected by cancer, however evidence supporting them is lacking.


There is a need to generate evidence to understand the impact of self-guided interventions for: i) the ideal delivery point in the disease trajectory, ii) patient groups, iii) intervention content and iv) type and mode of delivery.

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